[TALK LIKE SEX] Women Who Watch Porn

Confession: My name is Feminista Jones and I love watching porn. Porn in this instance refers to sexually explicit videos featuring men and women engaging in various types of kinky, sexy activity. I’m not a fan of magazines and still images, but I absolutely love watching people get it on. I’ve opened up about my voyeurism, and definitely admit that I’m highly aroused by being able to get a sneak peek into the sex lives of others. For most people, watching porn is about indulging in a fantasy or a sexy illusion that arouses one’s senses.  Others just want something fun to watch or seek to satisfy a lingering curiosity.

The longstanding stereotype that porn is just for men is simply untrue. Women absolutely do watch X-rated movies, and not just the softcore stuff either. According to a study conducted by Dr. Gomathi Sitharthan at the University of Sydney’s Graduate Program in Sexual Health, at least one in three women watches porn. She cites Internet accessibility as one of the contributing factors to the increase in viewing in recent years. This is true enough, as anyone can now access hundreds of thousands of videos via snippet sites that allow users to upload video clips and share with others for free. And even despite the ease with which people can now access these videos, CNBC reports that the porn industry is still estimated to take in over $14 billion a year in revenue.

I became interested in the porn-viewing habits of women, especially women of color, because I often see women and men talk about it with hesitation. I did a quick survey of my Twitter followers and received 206 responses to six questions about viewing habits and preferences.

What Do Women Like to Watch and Why?

Think most heterosexual women are checking out X-rated movies primarily to see fit, well-built, sexy men? Think again. Dr. Meredith Chivers found that the gender of the participants in porn didn’t matter much to the women watching. Women respond to the level of activity before they respond to the gender of the actors doing the activities, she found. This might explain why 53% of the women report enjoying lesbian scenes (at least two women, no men present) as one of their top three genres. I also found that 14.5% of the women enjoy watching gay scenes (at least two men, no women present), and 30% of the women enjoy watching group sex scenes (several men and women) or gangbangs (one woman, several men).

The longstanding stereotype that porn is just for men is simply untrue. Women absolutely do watch X-rated movies, and not just the softcore stuff either.

Women also report enjoying “ethnic” scenes, or scenes focused heavily on African-Americans and Latino/a-Americans. This category had the biggest response, with 68% of the women indicating it is in their top three favorites. There’s a level of cultural affinity associated with the visual it seems, and if women are focusing on the fantasy aspect of porn, it might be easier to connect to the actors who are of the same race/ethnicity or women they’re used to seeing in their daily lives.

I also asked the women to choose their top two reasons for watching these movies. The large majority (82%) said they watch porn to masturbate, which speaks to the arousing stimulation watching people have sex provides. The survey revealed that 43.2% of women also thought of porn as something simply fun to watch, while 38.3 % of women said they watch porn to learn new tricks and techniques. I’d recommend any woman looking for something new and exciting to try in the bedroom to check out some of those steamy clips and see what you can reenact the next time.

What About the Stigma?

Many women feel that porn degrades women, and struggle with reconciling the arousal they experience with the reality of the images depicted. About 32% of the women surveyed say they avoid porn that degrades women, while 27% say they don’t feel bad watching porn that features women being degraded because they choose to make the videos. Even more interesting is that 25% of women say they feel bad about the women being degraded but are still aroused, and 21% say they actually get off on the images of women being sexually degraded.

Approximately 13 million women check out at least one porn site per month, according to Nielsen ratings. “Porn provides an alternative way for women to satisfy their curiosity, learn more about sexuality, and explore sexual desires and sexual positions in the privacy of their home alone or with a partner,” says TaMara Campbell. According to my own survey, 50% of women prefer to watch porn alone, most likely because they prefer to masturbate while doing it.

Of those who do watch with someone else, 74% say they are comfortable with their preferences and don’t mind sharing with a partner. Further analysis shows that the remaining women who don’t